A Beginner's Guide to Buying Your First Camera

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Your First Camera

There are a lot of reasons for people starting in photography or trying to become a photographer. Be it as a hobby, to make some extra money, to make it a main source of income, or whatever the reason might be, it takes careful thought when purchasing a camera.

The most common question that I usually see on groups from people is "what camera should I buy?" Well, let me stop here to tell you. These aren't the best questions to make when starting photography, especially if you don't know anything about it or how to use a camera.

The initial question shouldn't be about the camera (especially about brands, it should be about type of camera instead), but how to learn photography in first place. And to learn, you can use something that you might already have, a smartphone. But, if you really want to learn with a camera, the best camera to use to learn is any camera that you can shoot in raw format, has manual controls, a pop-up flash and/or has a hot shoe to add a speedlight (more on that later), and doesn't have interchangeable lenses.

If you buy some camera like a DSLR or a mirrorless, be it a crop sensor (APS-C sensor) or full frame sensor, you'll eventually need to buy other lenses as well, and it'll add to the amount of money you'll invest in your new hobby (and make it harder to learn too, since you'll be adding more problems to the equation). And with a good superzoom, you'll have a lot of options in one lens, so it'll be easier to test different zoom ranges, so you'll find later which ones you use the most, and when upgrading for a more serious approach in equipment, you'll know in advance what zoom range you like the better. Also, it'll make it easier to change brands, since you won't have a collection of lenses)

The advantage of buying a camera which allows you to shoot in manual mode and use raw format is that you'll be able to edit the images in post better(and learn how to develop the RAW file) and with that, learn what you can and what you can't do, so when you decide to buy another camera with interchangeable lenses, you'll know with more confidence what you need to upgrade.

And about the pop-up flash, for one, you'll be able to use flash when you need (and learn how to use it to balance/modify the light on the scene, and not as the main light source), but also to trigger some off-camera flashes too (most speedlights have a built-in receiver that can be used to fire the speedlight when another flash is fired).

Of course, if you have the money to spend and don't care about it, go for the more expensive route if you desire.

This is what I usually suggest for the people who ask me about it, and maybe it will help you reading this as well. And if you are an experienced photographer, you can add your suggestions about this topic in the comments below too, so it'll help people starting.

And if you really want to dive into photography, check out "Photography 101: How to Use Your Digital Camera and Edit Photos in Photoshop."

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3 Comments

Rifki Syahputra's picture

I need a "GAS guide to buying your XXXth camera" please..

I recommend buying a used camera(eg: Nikon 7000 series) with lens and external flash as the first camera as you can get good ones for under $500. Many people like me sell their well cared first camera once they decide to go to the next level of shooting and many of them sell after realizing that all they need is an iPhone for great photos.

Alexandre Watanabe's picture

It can be a good way to buy some cheap and good combination of items too. But, people should be careful to avoid buying almost dead equipment (I see people sometimes trying to sell cameras with the sensor's click count way above the limit specified by the brand). So, a bit of due diligence regarding the person or about the equipment is always a good idea too!